Museum Merger Opponents Hear Satellite Idea

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A plan to open a branch of the Laguna Art Museum in the city apparently has appeased some opponents of a proposal to merge the Laguna and Newport Harbor museums.

Trustees from both museums and members of Save Laguna Art Museum (SLAM) met Thursday night to discuss the idea of opening a satellite to keep some museum presence in Laguna Beach.

Members of SLAM have opposed a merger, fearing it would result in the closure of the 78-year-old Laguna museum, which they call the cultural heart of the city.

Although SLAM officials agreed to the idea of a satellite, many of its members are opposed to a merger on any terms, and SLAM officers said they needed time to accustom members to the idea.

Therefore, they said Thursday night that they would not continue further talk about the satellite unless Laguna museum trustees extend the voting time for museum members to ratify the merger.

The museum's 1,500 members already have received ballots and have been given until March 30 to return them.

The Laguna trustees said they will call a special board meeting as soon as possible to consider the requested delay.

If the merger succeeds, the new Orange County Art Museum will operate on a budget of about $350,000 a year. The Laguna branch would be staffed and operated by the Orange County Art Museum staff.

Programming at the satellite would include exhibits of the museum's permanent collections, traveling shows and displays by local artists.

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